From:   Ashley Anderson <>
Sent time:   Tuesday, October 18, 2011 10:31:46 AM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] Demands Discussion [was MoveOn Execs Now...]

David, regarding the tax on carbon in a corrupt government: I agree. I have been saying to the climate movement for a long time that until we get the corporate money out of politics or "un-overthrow" our corptocracy, a price on carbon (at the source--not on individuals) is a laughable proposition. People are starting to get it. This is why, as a climate activist, I am 100% dedicated to this movement and not wasting time lobbying for this kind of realistic reform. 

I was presenting the option earlier in the thread assuming that our demands, including the end of corporate personhood, had been met. Which I am confident they will be! 

On Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 10:19 AM, shaista husain <> wrote:
wence the guilt David? who asked you to shut up? this movement is growing and expanding, if it is regrouping of activists horizontally, the different demands begin to swim with one another fluidly--i see no opposition in what you are doing with my point on anti-war anti-apartheid--just look at the numbers objectively, 75% of our taxes are spent on military. almost 50% of that goes to Israel. so if you want to talk about which issues are more important than others, it is a waste of time. they are all related on COMMON GROUND.

On Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 12:14 PM, David DeGraw <> wrote:
i essentially agree with this position, but when we ask for taxes into a corrupted government what makes you think the money will get where it needs to go? when we developed the 99% platform, which is now of course null n void becuase it has evolved into something much more dynamic, we heard from thousands of people and had all these debates over the course of a year and a half.  after all that time, we kept coming back to two things that underlies all the problems. 1) money has to be removed from politics before you can do anything constructive and meaningful, 2, you need to break up the "too big to fail" banks because they concentrate wealth and power beyond anyones control.

i'm sure i make people upset by always weighing in on these topics, but we've been doing this same exact work for just about 2 years now, same exact conversations and debates.  that being said, you can tell me to shut up at any time.  ;-)

On 10/18/2011 12:05 PM, shaista husain wrote:
That is great Gail, a tax on carbon yes yes, let's speak more about taxes... more than 75% of our TAXES --go to war machine supporting apartheid and whole scale war on my peoples.

Total Defense Spending –
Between 2001 and 2011 the United States spent $7.2 trillion dollars (in constant FY2012 dollars) on defense, including the Pentagon’s annual base budget, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nuclear weapons-related activities of the Department of Energy (Function 050). See below for a breakout of the base budget, nuclear weapons, and war costs.  
  • The Pentagon’s “base” budget – The Pentagon’s annual budget (Function 051) – not including war costs or DoE’s nuclear weapons activities – grew from $290.5 billion in FY2000, to $526.1 billion in FY2011. That’s a nominal increase of $235.6 billion (or 81 percent) and a “real” (inflation-adjusted) increase of $160.3 billion, or 43 percent. 
  • Department of Energy – Annual funding for the nuclear weapons activities rose more slowly between FY2000 and FY2011, from $12.4 billion to $19.0 billion. That’s a nominal increase of $6.6 billion (or 53 percent) and a “real” increase of $3.3 billion, or 21 percent. 
  • War Costs – The total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the Department of Defense and all other federal agencies (Department of State, USAID, etc.) will reach $1.26 trillion by the end of the current fiscal year (FY 2011) on September 30, 2011. Of this, $797.3 billion is for Iraq, and $459.8 billion is for Afghanistan. In constant FY2012 dollars, the totals through FY2011 are $1.36 trillion, $869 billion for Iraq and $487.6 billion for Afghanistan.

These figures, or ones like them, are well known and fairly simple to track. Both the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provide data on Pentagon and other military-related spending as part of the annual federal budget request released in February each year. The Congressional Research Service does an excellent job of analyzing the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. NPP also does its own war cost analysis on its “Cost of War” website.

Homeland Security – One security spending figure that isn’t well known is the amount the U.S. government has spent to date on “homeland security.”  This is because homeland security funding flows through literally dozens of federal agencies and not just through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). For example, of the $71.6 billion requested for “homeland security” in FY2012, only $37 billion is funded through DHS. A substantial part is funded through the Department of Defense – $18.1 billion in FY2012 – and others, including Health and Human Services ($4.6 billion) and the Department of Justice ($4.1 billion).

Because tracking homeland security funding is so difficult, starting back in FY2003 OMB began looking across the entire budget and providing summary tables of the annual request by agency. This analysis does not, however, provide historical data nor any cumulative funding figures. By going back and reviewing each annual request, however, NPP has been able to determine total government homeland security funding since the September 11 attacks.

Funding for homeland security has risen from $16 billion in FY2001 to $71.6 billion requested for FY2012. Adjusted for inflation, the United States has spent $635.9 billion on homeland security since FY2001. Of this $163.8 billion has been funded within the Pentagon’s annual budget. The remaining $472.1 billion has been funded through other federal agencies. For full details of the FY2012 homeland security request, see the “Homeland Security Mission Funding by Agency and Budget Account” appendix to the FY2012 budget.

On Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 11:56 AM, gail zawacki <> wrote:
Aside from tackling climate change and creating good jobs, a tax on carbon can be structured to benefit the poor, who can least afford it.  Given the huge role of energy in our economy, a tax has the potential to really transform society, as well as reduce, if not eliminate, pollution. 

On Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 11:46 AM, Ashley Anderson <> wrote:
Gail's idea could be financed by a heavy price (tax) on carbon, which is regarded by climate activists as the only real way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the scale demanded by the laws of physics. It doesn't create another BS market either, the way the abominable cap and trade would have. 
The rebuilding of our energy infrastructure with a focus on supporting localized (and thus more democratically-controlled) energy production would produce a great deal of jobs. 

On Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 9:36 AM, gail zawacki <> wrote:
If jobs are a demand, let's demand that government invest in clean energy, and rebuilding the grid to modernize it and make it friendly to solar, wind and other alternatives.  Let's have the government STOP subsidizing coal, oil, and "natural" gas, and instead support high speed rail.

Plenty of jobs in that!

On Tue, Oct 18, 2011 at 11:28 AM, <> wrote:
Rule of thumb, shared by socialists and the best of the anarchosyndicalists: control is vested in the lowest level possible. So although we have to seize the resources (sit down! sit down! -- channeling the old CIO song) of national banks and governments, and we'll have to agree democratically on what are fair shares across the nation (and globe), actual management of a neighborhood's schools, clinics, etc., including how to divvy up public funds, can be done to a great extent at that neighborhood (or at worst regional) level.

---------- Original Message ----------
From: David DeGraw <>
Subject: Re: [september17discuss] Demands Discussion [was MoveOn Execs Now...]
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 2011 11:23:30 -0400

if we open w/ a demand pushing for "big government" we will be labeled and dismissed as by many people within the movement.� imo, this would be a critical error.� as i understand it, a major uniting theme is breaking up concentrated, oligarchic power, hence many are unified under a banner of decentralized power.� with this in mind, it may be more appealing to people if we pushed for community-based employment projects run outside of Federal / big government bureaucracy.

On 10/18/2011 10:44 AM, Snafu wrote:

I am changing the subject of this thread to split it from the discussion on cooptation, otherwise it is too messy.

Andy, I am in total agreement. I think the positions on this listserv are closer than we think. However, the Demands Committee met on Monday and I think it agreed to pass as a first demand a "National Jobs Program with direct government employment." I had to leave at a certain point but it seems to me that this point has been approved, am I right?

Using similar arguments I have been using in this discussion, I explained why I disagreed with a neo-Keynesian approach. A demand of this kind has two major flaws imho:

1. It keeps laying the emphasis on labor and quantitative growth, downplaying the environmental crisis and the limitedness of natural resources. Let's not forget that capitalism cannot grow without living labor so labor under capitalism is part of the problem (as much as of the solution).
2. It centralizes this growth by expanding the reach and power of the federal government.

This means that internally this demand will meet the opposition of the environmental, anarchist, and libertarian wings of this movement.

Rearticulating a program of demands by rooting it in a strategic vision of a society built upon the commons-- a society concerned with� "reproduction" and "repair" rather than growth and expansion--will allow us to keep many of these differences together.

It will take time to articulate this program in a realistic way, but I think it is worth giving it a try.

Love you all,

On 10/18/11 8:15 AM, wrote:
I think snafu's very crucial points can be�made to fit a program of demands.�
While we certainly need many new jobs for much needed infrastructure, what we need far more are more service jobs: teachers, childcare workers, homecare workers, paid maternity/paternity and care for the elderly�leave, etc., etc. Even -- or rather especially -- a new Civilian Conservation Corps to repair the environment. AND paid cultural workers.
Capitalism, because of its crisis of profitability, can't make a buck in making things. So the money got funneled into speculative (financial) investments. One reason it can't make a buck is we're TOO productive: too many factories turning out too many things chasing the same underpaid consumers. Ergo, crisis and trillions traded every day at the punch of a button with no productive result.
But that's not our problem. We say, Jobs for ALL! And if you claim you don't have the money, let us see your (electronic) accounting�books. And WE'LL decide how to allocate that money to pay for the jobs listed above at union wages and benefits.
(Notice that nowhere in the above do I pander to the "end the Fed" right-wing libertarian demagogy. Or the liberal "revive Glass-Steagall" fantasy.)

---------- Original Message ----------
From: Doug Singsen <>
Subject: Re: [september17discuss] MoveOn Execs Now Official Spokespeople For OWS, According to MSM Execs
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2011 20:58:23 -0400

I've said this before on this list, but it's an error to assume that reforms act as brakes on movements. Often, reforms only increase the militancy of movements. The passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-sixties didn't lead to the demobilization of the civil rights movement. The legislation basically granted all of the reforms that the movement had previously demanded, but that didn't mean that it was over or out of steam. Instead, it actually escalated, transitioning into the Black Power movement. When the demands of the civil rights movement were met, the movement didn't stop, it just led to the realization that the needs the movement was trying to address actually went much deeper than just formal legal equality, but actually encompassed material inequality and structural racism and power relations, which the movement then went on to challenge.

In Egypt, Mubarak and then the army repeatedly made concessions to the movement, but that did not stop it from continuing either. (It's still very much ongoing, although you wouldn't know it from the MSM.) When FDR passed the Wagner Act, that didn't calm the labor movement down, it set off a massive wave of strikes, occupations and insurrections. And so on and so on.

A lot of people at OWS have said that we shouldn't have demands because if they grant our demands, we won't be able to continue the movement. This has always struck me as incredibly silly. Demands are not set in stone. There is no rule that says that you can only come up with demands once, and that you can never raise more demands later. That's not how movements work and never has been.


On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 4:05 PM, Snafu <> wrote:
Right, but I do not want to have a new New Deal. Even admitting that this would be feasible nowadays, in the 1930s they did not face the massive ecological crisis we are facing today. If we keep laying the emphasis on creating "good jobs" or sustainable capitalism we keep missing the point--i.e. that capitalism proved to be an unsustainable system and it will make human life impossible on this planet in the matter of few decades. *Capitalism is the crisis* so it is time to take the bull by the horns, rather than trying to patch it up once again.

Shaista, you ask, what is to be done. My suggestion is why don't we begin to think of water, food, energy, health care, education, the communication infrastructure, and transportation as commons? The commons is a *limited* resource that can be managed beginning from the local level according to rules that have to be determined by the community of its users. It takes nature and creative production as departure points (rather than just the latter) and moves from there all the way up.

If we assume that water is a commons, the question is why is it privatized? And what is to be done so as to make it common again? The same could be asked of education and health care.

In this context demands acquire a tactical significance. We demand to reinstate Glass-Steagall to demonstrate that they cannot reinstate it without bankrupting the banks that are gambling our money on the stock market. We demand a living wage or a universal income (rather than a national jobs program) to make the case that everyone has a right to have a decent life regardless of his/her productivity. Once you begin taking care of these common resources from below, labor acquires a new significance, it becomes an activity that is detached from the wage and becomes attached to tasks that are socially necessary in order to reproduce society and the commons.

On 10/17/11 3:24 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
I basically agree with Aaron's formulation, except that I would add that financial power and state power are both structures of capitalist power. They are not two rival forces, they are heavily coordinated with each other and serve the same ultimate ends, yet at the same time there is a nominal and structural separation between the two. Finance capital is the dominant form of capital today, but that does not mean that states are irrelevant. States perform all kinds of functions (military, economic, social, political) that finance capital and capital as a whole do not and can not perform directly and which they desperately need, now more than ever. States may not be able to contain the economic crisis, but neither can any other power center, including finance capital. This crisis escaped anyone's control from the moment it began. The appearance of control was restored for a few years, but the crisis was just festering under the surface until it exploded again.

While the state ultimately serves the interests of capital, which effectively means the interests of finance capital since that is the strongest sector of capital today, in order for the state to perform its functions in the service of capital, it must maintain both the illusion of autonomy (which is now cracking) and at least a small sliver of real autonomy. If the state were seen to be totally in the service of capital, if it was seen as having absolutely no possibility of reform or action outside of finance capital, it would no longer be able to pacify people and keep them plugged into the system. That illusion is beginning to break down today, but we are still at the very beginning of that process. Most people still believe the state is capable of granting reforms in the interests of the majority of people. And there is actually some truth to this. In periods of extreme social upheaval, the state can act to rein in the most egregious forms of capitalist exploitation, in order to prevent even further upheavals from occurring. In fact, this is how all major reforms under capitalism happen. This is how we got the New Deal and civil rights for African-Americans. This is one of the state's key functions, and it requires that states be able to separate their interests at least temporarily from their capitalist masters.


On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:44 AM, Aaron Gemmill <> wrote:
in general i don't think you can peg one as subordinate to the other (tho i don't know of any banks with aircraft carriers). financial power is an instrument of state power and vice versa.�

On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM, Snafu <> wrote:
Doug, on the question of national debt and economic growth, state power is clearly subordinated to financial power. It is the markets that decide whether it is safe to invest in state bonds or in any other financial asset in a given country. National governments and central banks have now the primary function of reassuring the markets by slashing the debt, propping up the banks (which increases in turn the debt exposure) or through quantitative easing. The mass of circulating financial assets is roughly 10 fold the global GDP. In 2010, the US GDP was estimated at $14.7 trillions whereas US financial assets at $131 trillions. It is financial capital that leads the game and it should be the primary target of this movement. You are right, Standard&Poor is a corporation. But it expresses the "collective interests" of financial capital, which needs to have arbiters that (pretend) to set the rules of the game. In this respect, it is a new form of sovereign power. The downgrading of the US debt was the first time in history in which you saw an entire political class having to justify itself before a financial institution.

(The alter-globalization movement did not ebb in Europe and other countries right after September 11, but much later--i.e. around 2005, when activists begun getting tired of chasing G8 summits. The European Social Forum in Florence was attended by 1 million people in 2003).

On 10/16/11 10:47 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
But rating agencies and all the other players in the financial industry are themselves corporations, so they are part of the system that is described under the rubric of "corporate power." And I don't think that states are irrelevant or powerless at all. That argument was a mainstay of the global justice movement of the late nineties, but 9/11 and the events that followed blew that argument to bits, along with the global justice movement itself, which was not prepared to deal with either the massive wave of reactionary patriotism or the aggression of a suped-up, militarized US state. At a time when the US is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, holding "terrorists" with no legal rights in Guantanamo Bay, bombing targets in Pakistan, trying to install a puppet regime in Libya, and green-lighting repression in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, state power seems far from irrelevant.


On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 10:20 PM, Snafu <> wrote:
You are right Doug, and I thank you for this observation. It was not my intention inserting any reference to the obsolescence of past struggle in the declaration. I was just noting that most statements produced and approved by the GA so far are focusing on either corporate power or (now) the two-party system, whereas none of the two are to me the hegemonic forces in contemporary capitalism.

�Financial capitalism is a tough beast to fight because it is at the same time abstract and diffused at a molecular level. Yet if Standard&Poor's downgrading of the US debt has such massive effects, it means that we have entered a new phase, one in which the power of rating agencies stands above that of national governments. Hence my hesitation on supporting statements that keep focusing on the traditional enemies and seem to be oblivious to the new forms of sovereignty that are emerging. The more you claim that the state is useless and powerless the more you will have to confront financial power directly. But who will regulate the stock market as the system keeps melting, the GA?

On 10/16/11 7:08 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
It's not true that market volatility is mainly the result of the automation of financial transactions. Markets were highly volatile long before automation. The biggest financial collapse in history took place before the invention of the microchip. Rather, market volatility is an inherent part of capitalism. We also need to beware of declarations that all previous resistance is obsolete and that we need to invent new tools from scratch. The lessons of past struggles are still very much relevant today, and ignoring them is a quick recipe for repeating their errors today.